Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Program

The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is a joint state, regional and local program that provides coordinated planning and management for the 72 mile stretch of the Mississippi River through the seven-county metropolitan area and 54,000 acres of surrounding land across 30 local jurisdictions. The MRCCA shares a boundary with the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), a unit of the National Park Service.

The MRCCA was designated a state critical area in 1976 to protect its many unique natural and cultural resources and values. These resources and values are protected through development standards and criteria implemented via local land use plans and zoning ordinances.

The MRCCA is home to a full range of residential neighborhoods and parks, as well as river-related commerce, industry, and transportation. Though the river corridor has been extensively developed, many intact and remnant natural areas remain, including bluffs, islands, floodplains, wetlands, riparian zones, and native aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna.

The MRCCA is cooperatively managed by:

  • Local Government - Adopts, administers, and enforces plans and ordinances.
  • DNR - Adopts rules, reviews and approves local plans and ordinances, and may review and comment on local actions requiring a public hearing.
  • Metropolitan Council - Reviews plans for consistency with rules and MNRRA policies, and submits recommendations to the DNR; and provides assistance to local governments adopting or amending plans.
  • National Park Service - Provides funding assistance to local, regional, and state agencies; encourages local governments to incorporate voluntary MNRRA policies into plans; and provides stewardship, education, and historical and cultural resource protection.

New Rules Regulating the MRCCA

Rules for the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area were published on December 27, 2016. These rules replaced an Executive Order that guided development in the corridor from 1976 to 2016. The new rules will be implemented through local government MRCCA plans and ordinances. Implementation will be phased in over the next five years, first with updates to local government MRCCA plans and then with updates to their MRCCA ordinances. Until local governments update their MRCCA ordinances, their existing MRCCA ordinances and districts remain as the controlling development regulation. Citizens should contact their local government to find out what regulations apply to their property.


The MRCCA plan is a chapter in local government comprehensive plans. Comprehensive plan updates are due to the Metropolitan Council by the end of 2018. Detailed local government planning guidance for MRCCA plans is available from the Metropolitan Council.


Dan Petrik, Land Use Specialist, 651-259-5697